The “Eroica” bike thirty years on
 
Monday, 04 September 2017

The “Eroica” bike thirty years on


A frame the shape of a pentagon, two wheels, the front giving direction and the back moved by a chainset. Handlebars like upside-down horns and a comfortable saddle to sit on. Think about it: current super-technological carbon bikes that weigh no more than six kilos, still have incredible elements in common with the first velocipedes from the end of the 19th century.
The racing bike has changed a lot in its 150 years of existence. The original silhouette hasn’t been lost, that’s true, but slowly but surely this mode of transport has advanced and improved, both technically and in the materials used: fixed gear at first, followed by the free wheel, and then by flip flop hubs. Then, it was the turn of the early tension arms and rod shifters, before the advent of the modern derailleur, with two speeds quickly becoming five, six, and seven.  
These are, very briefly, some of the main evolutionary steps in the bikes we like to call “Eroica” or vintage. A few years ago, we decided to use 1987 as the cut-off year for bikes, after which they can no longer avail of the “Eroica” appellation.
At the end of the ’80s, in fact, the racing bike had a sudden, explosive evolution; a series of technical advances noticeably improved speed and efficiency, and the “look” and aesthetics of the vehicle also changed considerably. The brake tubes had always been external, now they began to flow inside the handlebars, the gear cables began to pass through the frame and, moreover, the old “free” pedals with toe cages, were replaced by ingenious click pedals that were complemented by the new shoes that clicked perfectly into them.
A few years later, materials were revolutionized, changing the frame forever: carbon/Kevlar, aluminum and then just carbon. But that’s another story that has little to do with L’Eroica. For the Eroica community, bikes have stood still in 1987, which is an important divide in the history of the bicycle. 
1987–2017: thirty years have passed, meaning that even the youngest Eroica bike will celebrate a big birthday this year; a little bit older, yes, but more attractive than ever.
Maurizio Coccia